As quickly as West Coast v Geelong took the lead as match of the year, it was replaced.
By Gold Coast v St Kilda in the second leg of a Thursday night double header as the penultimate match of the round.
Very few sentences sum up this season better.
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Brisbane’s final frontier
Since the start of 2019, Brisbane is 0-3 against Richmond – and 23-7 against everyone else.
Richmond is the only team Brisbane has lost multiple games against in that time period, and the last two defeats may as well have been the same match replayed:
- Brisbane has the better of general play
- Brisbane doesn’t take chances on offer
- Richmond happy to absorb pressure
- Richmond walk goals in at the other end
This is where it becomes a mental battle for the Lions. They know they’ve had the better of the last two matches and could quite easily have won both.
Chris Fagan on the bench during Tuesday night’s defeat knew it, and with the way kicking progressively deteriorated on the field, it’d be a fair bet demons were crawling into players’ heads as well.
With the exception of a finals win, Brisbane’s ticked off just about every other box since becoming a legitimate top four side but until further notice, all roads to a flag lead through Richmond.
When they next meet – which could very well be on either preliminary or Grand Final day – what does Brisbane do?
Does the system get backed in again, thinking third time lucky? Or are there tweaks made to the defence to make sure Richmond can’t score freely on the counter, at the potential sacrifice of their own defensive game?
Collingwood’s inside 50s
When the inside 50 count is 24 to 4, there’d hardly be a soul in the world to predict a margin of two points.
Yet that was the situation during the second quarter of Collingwood’s eventual win over Sydney; the score at the time reading 1.8.14 to 2.0.12.
Every other area of Collingwood’s game was working smoothly, likely a reason Nathan Buckley didn’t appear too flustered in his post-match press conference. But that final kick inside 50 was a debacle and if anything, having nine scoring shots to that point actually flattered the Pies.
Some of it was because of how Sydney deals with repeat entries better than most teams. They’ve conceded at least 47 inside 50s in every match since Round 5, by far the most in the league.
But it all circles back to a common thread for Collingwood – the lack of a threatening marking target to centre a forward line around.
Other contenders have that, but the Pies don’t, and it means there’s less of a margin for error when sides are defending inside 50s well.
They’re roughly mid table for turning inside 50s into scoring shots, and right near the bottom for converting to goals. It’s not the profile of a premiership fancy.
|2020||Scoring shots per inside 50%||Goals per inside 50%|
Although if there was ever a match to improve those numbers, up comes Adelaide on Tuesday night.
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The GWS riddle
Ups and downs, round and round; the Giants’ win against Essendon summed up just how tough they are to read right now.
Listless would have been a compliment for their first half performance. Then after trailing by as many as 29 points in tough conditions, the rain came – and so did six consecutive goals to run all over the Bombers.
The frustration comes from how inconsistent the Giants are in applying crucial areas of the game – for instance, their forward pressure.
While they’ll never be elite in this, the fluctuation from the second to fourth quarter was wild.
Here’s a contrast in application. The first part of this clip comes from the second quarter; note how easy it is for Essendon to waltz out of their back half. Even with the skill errors on first attempt, for take two Dylan Shiel is allowed to cruise out and link up as if it was a training run.
Then the second part comes from the dying stages, where the will and setup to block a clean Essendon exit from pocket is phenomenal. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think it was two different teams defending.
The variation from quarter to quarter and match to match has been a constant for the Giants. And yet for all of it, they’re 6-4 heading into a bye and with Sydney on the other side. Not a bad place to launch from if they can avoid their customary one to two injuries per game.